Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 44
BEING SHIPWRECKED SPIRITUALLY
I Timothy 1:17 – 2:2
Okay, good to see everybody out again this afternoon. It’s a rainy day here in Tulsa, and we’re thankful, of course, that you chose to come out to be part of our studio audience. For those of you joining us on television, no matter where you may be, we always like to make it known that we’re just an informal Bible study. And as I look up and down the tables, every one of you has your own Bible. We appreciate so much hearing from you and sharing your thoughts.
I’ve said it before—so many of you have told us you feel like you’re right here in the classroom with us. We’ve got some new folks in from Minnesota, another couple, and they said, well, we just feel like we know all these people because we see them every day. So again, we cherish those letters and your financial help and your prayers. Because we do feel like we’re beginning to reach a lot of folks from one end of this country to the other.
All right, now we’re going to go right into the Scriptures. After all, that’s what we’re here for. So let’s go right in where we left off in our last program, which was I Timothy chapter 1 and verse 17. Now, maybe I should, again, just make a quick review as to the historical setting of this little letter of I Timothy.
More than likely, although not everyone agrees, the Apostle Paul had been in prison in Caesarea, there in the land of Israel on the coast, for probably a year and a half. Then he took that ship to Rome, whereupon he suffered shipwreck. Then finally he ended up in Rome in prison. Supposedly, declaring his own defense without benefit of any professional attorneys, he gained an acquittal. I’m beginning to agree to that more and more. And after being released—after probably a couple or three years in prison during which time he wrote what we call the Prison Epistles. Which, of course, are: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
But anyway, the Prison Epistles are not all of Paul’s writings. The earlier ones, remember, were written from various places in his missionary journeys. After the Prison Epistles, if he was out—and like I said, I think more and more he probably was. During that interval, then—before he was arrested the second time—he wrote I Timothy and Titus. II Timothy, of course, was written during the time he was in prison the second time. After which time, he was taken out for his beheading.
So as you read I Timothy—and we’ll go from I Timothy, in a few weeks, over to Titus—both of those letters were during that period of time between the first and the second imprisonment. It stands to reason from his language that he’s not writing from prison itself. All those things kind of help; and, of course, by now we’re well up into the A.D. 60’s. It’s probably 62, 63, 64 or somewhere in there. And all these little churches and congregations have been formed throughout Paul’s journeys. Mostly, of course, in Asia—Asia Minor, which is Turkey today—and up and down Greece, and, of course, the church in Rome. To those churches he has been addressing his previous letters.
Now you always want to remember that for the first ten years—in fact, I think I’ll put it on the board. It’s been a long time since I’ve used the board. Just make a timeline of Paul’s life and epistles and so forth. I think instead of going horizontally, I’m going to take it vertically, if I may.
Let’s take approximate dates. Now whenever we talk about dates in Scripture, I don’t care whether it’s the Old Testament or the New, chronologers never agree. I’ve never seen two chronologers agree within a short time span whatsoever. So there’s always that period of guesswork, and it really doesn’t make that much difference. So when I put these figures up, I don’t set them in concrete, as it were. They are approximations.
So, in A.D. 37 we have Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. That, of course, is back in Acts chapter 9. And that is where we finally have a real detailed description of this new character coming up in the Book of Acts. Then after the three year hiatus, whether it was all in Arabia or partially, makes no difference. But in about A.D. 40 he begins his ministry. He begins going to the Gentile world.
Then, he does not write any of his letters—there is nothing yet from the pen of the Apostle Paul—until, probably, we’re going to say about A.D. 56 when he writes the Thessalonian letters. They were the first ones written even though they are at the end of the first group of Prison Epistles. Then he doesn’t write much more, again, until we get up to the early A.D. 60’s. And in the early A.D. 60’s, he writes Galatians and Romans and the Corinthian letters. Then after you get past the early A.D. 60’s—in between A.D. 60 to 65, we have the rest of his Prison Epistles. And somewhere in there we’re seeing the first letter to Timothy. Then, of course, at the very end of his ministry, or the end of his life, probably around A.D. 66, he will write his final letter, which is II Timothy.
And the reason we know II Timothy is the final is because, you see, that’s where he makes reference to his being offered. In fact, turn with me to that portion, and you can see what we’re talking about. Just jump over to II Timothy. This is his last writing. II Timothy chapter 4 verse 7 and you can almost sense the heart of the Apostle as he now writes this final letter to his son in the faith, young Timothy. No, let’s go back to verse 6. I’m sorry, verse 6, where he says:
II Timothy 4:6-7
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure (That is from this world.) is at hand. 7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” Doesn’t that just tear at you? Here the man has gone all these years now—from A.D. 40 on up to about A.D. 66, a period of about 25 or 26 years—suffering inexorably, one thing after the other, just to keep the Word going out.
In fact, I had a letter the other day which reminded me of this. He said, “Les, I’ve come to know the Lord through your program. But is it always this way? It just seems the minute I became a believer the bottom fell out of everything. My business began to suffer, somebody in the family had bad health…” and, ah, he just went on event after event. It would be enough to destroy your faith.
But as I was reading his letter, this is what I thought of. Look what the Apostle Paul suffered for 25 years as God’s chosen vessel. Now you would think, ordinarily, he should have just had a rose-petaled highway. But that isn’t the way it works. He suffered and he suffered and he suffered and only for one reason: to get the Gospel of salvation, as found in I Corinthians 15:1-4, out to the Gentile world.
And then he ends up having his head knocked off. So you see, whenever we as believers suffer set-backs and reverses and maybe bad health, don’t despair. Don’t think for a minute that this is a sign there’s something wrong. No. Because this is the way it has happened invariably. Here this man endured 25 or 26 years of suffering physically constantly, so that he could take the Gospel to the ends of the Roman Empire. Then verse 8, but he never despaired.
II Timothy 4:8
“Henceforth (In other words, now that he’s at the end of his earthly sojourn.) there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, (But to whom?) but unto all them also who love his appearing.”
You know what that means? The easiest crown a believer can gain is this one. Are you looking for the Lord’s return? Are you expectantly looking up and hoping for His soon return? Because if you do, and you do it sincerely, you’ve got one crown for sure—it’s what I say is the easiest one to attain.
Well anyway, II Timothy was written when he’s back in prison. He’s waiting for his execution to be carried out. But in I Timothy, he’s out of prison. He’s evidently won his own acquittal, and he’s writing from somewhere, probably up in Northern Greece. The language is such that we know it’s being written not in prison but rather out. And so is the Book of Titus. So we’ll take I Timothy, Titus, and probably Philemon, and then we’ll come back and wind up the Apostle’s ministry with the little letter to II Timothy. All right, back to I Timothy now for the rest of this program—verse 17—where we left off last week.
I Timothy 1:17
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” All right, now we’re going to have to stop here a minute. Because, you remember, I’ve always made the point that Paul never refers to Christ as the King of the Church. And he doesn’t here.
He’s not referring to Christ being the King of the Church. He’s the Head of the Body for us as the Church people. But here he’s merely using the term King to show His Sovereignty—that He is a part and parcel of that eternal Sovereign Godhead. And that brings up another verse. Come back with me a moment to Colossians chapter 2 verse 9, because we’ve got to back up everything I say with Scripture.
Because I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a discerning and a critical audience. And that’s as it should be. I don’t mind a bit. And if I say something that isn’t definitively written, they say, “Now, Les, you’re always saying, ‘What does the Book say?’ But this time you said something that was your own idea.” Well, I try to always qualify that. I’ll almost always try to say, “Now this is my idea. I can’t show this from Scripture.” But when possible, I’m going to come right back and show you why I’m saying what I’m saying.
“For in him (Now, of course, you have to look up at verse 8 a minute, and it speaks of Christ, so–) For in him (in Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the (What?) the Godhead (Or the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—what we call the Triune God.) for in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (What’s the next word?) bodily.”
Bodily. Now see, here’s where we have a change of venue or whatever—modus operandi. Come back to Timothy, if you will. Because you see, all the way up until Christ’s first advent, the Godhead was—and again, going back there into Colossians 1—the Godhead was what? Invisible. Nobody had ever seen God at any time in the Triune Godhead. It was invisible.
Now granted, God the Son stepped out of that, and—we’ll be looking at that maybe—well, if I’m going to look at it right now or a little bit later, but—well, I’m going to wait unto we get to chapter 2. We’re going to look at it again, how that out of that invisible Triune Godhead back in the Old Testament economy, we have God the Son stepping out periodically and appearing in human form. But only in human form and then He goes back into that invisible Godhead. We’ll be looking at it, like I said, in a future program.
But what you have to understand is that as soon as Christ came in the flesh, the Godhead is no longer totally invisible. Because now, I guess I’m going to have to bring you back to Colossians, as I’ve just got to use the Scriptures. Come back to Colossians chapter 1. Because see, there’s so much confusion about this invisible Godhead and some of the statements concerning God and so forth. Well, it’s really not that difficult if you just recognize what Paul says here in Colossians 1 verse 15. The Scripture makes it so plain. It is speaking again of the Son up there in verse 13.
“Who (the Son) is the image (Or something that you can see and touch—God the Son is the image of the what?) of the invisible God,…” That’s what your Bible says. God the Son is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. The Godhead, up until Christ took on flesh, was indeed invisible. Nobody had ever seen the Godhead.
All right, now since He has been born at Bethlehem, He has become the image, or the visible manifestation, of the invisible God. And that has never changed. That’s why in chapter 2 Paul goes on to say that Christ now is the Godhead in bodily form. So the Godhead is no longer an invisible Godhead. God the Father is still invisible. God the Spirit is invisible. But God the Son is that visible manifestation.
All right, now coming back to verse 17 of I Timothy chapter 1, this is what Paul is again alluding to. That the God who had been invisible is now personified in God the Son, but His Sovereignty has never been diminished. He is still the eternal King of Kings. He’s still the Lord of Lords, and He will exemplify that at His Second Coming. Reading on in verse 17:
I Timothy 1:17
“…(Who is the image of the invisible God), the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” He’s immortal. He’s from eternity past, and He will go into eternity future. And again, coming back to the Godhead’s invisibleness, He’s “the only wise God, (Sovereign and to Him) be honour and glory for ever and ever.”
So, Paul probably gives us a better description of the Godhead than all the rest of Scripture put together. And never lose sight of the fact that the Deity of Christ is fundamental to our faith. If He wasn’t very, very God, He could have never taken the sins of the world upon Himself. This is what makes Christianity so unique, and it makes it so exclusive.
There isn’t another religion on the face of the earth that can make that kind of a claim. Buddha never claimed to die for the sins of the world. Muhammad couldn’t die for the sins of the world. Joseph Smith didn’t die for the sins of the world. You could go on to every other so-called religion on earth, and none of them can make this kind of a claim. But this is what’s basic to our faith. It is that God the Son, because He was totally God, was fully capable of taking upon Himself the sin debt, the sin punishment of the whole human race. That’s what makes our faith so unique and yet so believable. All right, now verse 18, we’ll move on and make a little headway.
I Timothy 1:18a
“This charge…” Now look at this carefully. Paul is now writing to someone quite a bit younger. He’s no longer an 18 year old. He is probably in his mid-thirties or forties by now. But he’s still, in Paul’s aged look-back—he’s still the young man in the faith. Look what he commits to this young man Timothy.
I Timothy 1:18a
“This charge (or this responsibility) I commit unto thee,…” Now remember, Paul is not in prison. He’s free. He has no idea how much longer he’s going to be on earth to minister. But he realizes that he has to start passing the responsibility to someone else. As my wife tells me over and over, you’ve got to learn to delegate. Well, that’s so true. You can’t do it all yourself. We have to delegate.
This is what Paul is beginning to do now. For the first time he is passing some of his responsibility—or as in the Old Testament case between Elijah and Elisha, what did Elijah pass on to Elisha? The mantle. Didn’t he? He passed it on and delegated his previous responsibility to the next one in line. Well, that’s basically what Paul is doing here to Timothy. He is passing the mantle, and he says:
I Timothy 1:18
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies….” Now here’s where we always have to be careful when we read the New Testament. The word prophecy in the New Testament does not mean telling the future like Daniel and Isaiah did. They word prophecy in the New Testament usually, and I think almost without exception, simply means speaking forth. Speaking forth the Word of God.
Now again, if you’ll go back to this timeline, you can see that from the onset of the Apostle Paul’s ministry in about A.D. 40 up until at least A.D. 56 – 57, there are 15 or 16 years where there is no written Word. So, how did these little congregations scattered throughout the Roman Empire exist? How did they grow? By the spoken Word—by men with the gift of speaking the Word.
And that’s what I Corinthians 12 and 14 re all about. You have to understand these definitions, otherwise you’d think, well, Timothy must have been a prophet like Isaiah. No, he wasn’t. Timothy didn’t leave us any prophetic utterances about the future. But he was given this gift of speaking forth the Word, because that’s what he had received up until this time. All right, so Paul says:
I Timothy 1:18
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies (The speaking forth of these biblical truths without benefit of having been written.) which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest wage a good warfare;”
Now just stop and think about that for a moment. Here this young man Timothy has been with Paul now over the last several years. He was probably one of Paul’s first converts in that first missionary journey up to Derbe and Lystra and so forth. And Paul has just been sort of nurturing him, teaching him, and giving him a little more responsibility all the time as he goes along.
But now, evidently realizing that his time on earth is certainly limited, Paul begins to get the young man ready to carry on the work of the Apostle Paul. So he again reminds him of the things that had been spoken to him before—that by those things that he had learned, they might help him to fight a good what? Warfare.
Now listen, the Christian life has never been a bed of roses for anybody. It is a constant warfare. Now let’s go back to Ephesians, again; as it’s been a long time since we were over there. And nothing has changed. You and I are in the same situation. As soon as you take a stand for the truth, you find yourself in warfare. You find yourself up against opposition.
You just can’t avoid it. Because you want to remember, the vast majority of the human race does not like the truth. They’d rather be fed a bunch of “milk-toast” and a bunch of stuff that goes down easy or as Paul says later in Timothy—“with itching ears.” They just want something that tickles their ears and makes them feel good. And if ever we were in a time of that kind of Christianity, we’re in it today. A feel-good Christianity. All right, but that’s not the way it is. The real world is:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but (We’re in a spiritual warfare. We do wrestle–) against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,(Not a pretty picture, is it? And we are–) against spiritual wickedness (Where?) in high places.”
Now you remember when I taught this, I said, we’re not talking about government as the high places. We’re talking about the ecclesiastical hierarchies—the seminaries and the denominational leadership, many times. And, oh, we’re seeing it constantly—how that these men are just apostatizing. They’re turning against the basic truths. All right, Paul warned us of it.
And then he starts in verse 13 with alluding to a Roman soldier. Now you all know that Romans were feared from one end of the then-known world to the other because their military power for that day and time was awesome. They were ruthless. So Paul uses that as analogy. The only way we can withstand the enemy of our day is the same way as he told Timothy—to be on guard and to be ready to take up the charge. Because we’re going to need the whole armor of God. We cannot go out there without a knowledge of the Scripture and make any inroads amongst the enemy.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Then he goes through and he puts on all the armament of that Roman soldier and makes an allusion to things of the Spirit. So as believers, whether in your everyday work in the office or wherever you may be working, or whether it’s in a ministry of one sort or another, we are all in a warfare.
And he makes another allusion in one of his other letters. When a soldier went out to fight for the Roman government, did he take along all of his domestic responsibilities? Hardly. He had to leave all that behind. He just simply had to turn his back on his domestic responsibilities. He had but one purpose in life, and that was to fight for his government, for the Romans as pagan as they were. But nevertheless, that part has never changed. And it’s the same way with us. We are to be in a constant spiritual warfare against the enemy. And the only way we can wage it is to be skilled in the Word of God.
So always remember these things. This is why we admonish people on the program constantly – get into the Book. Don’t just sit and let it come in and think, oh, well, I’m prepared. No, you can’t be. You have to just simply get into the Word. Study it on your own. Be in it day in and day out. And then, of course, supplement it with a prayer life. And then, as a Roman soldier of old, we can be a soldier of Jesus Christ. It is not an easy road. Never does Paul imply that we are going to have a rose petal pathway. It is a constant, constant battle.